Just like the Noah’s Mill I reviewed earlier, Willett is a brand name of Kentucky Bourbon Distillers from Bardstown, Kentucky, or KBD for short. At first not really a distiller, but an independent bottler sourcing barrels of Bourbon from other parties and in some cases for other parties. In written media about the subject the name of Heaven Hill keeps popping up, especially since Heaven Hill is a few blocks down the road from KBD. However, on the 21th of January 2012 KBD started tests distilling at their Willett Distillery in Bardstown, so in the end KBD finally became a distiller again. I say again, since the Willett distillery was already founded in 1935 by A.L. Willett and the decommissioned distillery was already bought in 1984 by Even Kulsveen (the founder of KBD).
The Pot Still Reserve I’m about to review come from single barrels, said to be 8 to 10 years old and reduced to 47% ABV, so all are slightly different. Well, they might be from different distilleries altogether as far as I know. Remember that the Whiskey is older than the three years that have passed since starting up the distillery, so these Willetts are still made elsewhere.
Color: Orange gold.
Nose: Waxy, latex paint with lots of new wood influence. Honey. Very vegetal with hints of many plants, even lavas and dry grass. Heavy note of bad morning breath, but also dusty and smooth. Hints of old dried orange skins. The whole isn’t very “big”, although full of aroma.
Taste: Sweet entry, woody, and dry right after that and spicy. Big note of watered down honey (as to say that it is not too sweet). Again quite sappy new wood and very warming. Sawdust from wet wood. Chocolate. Great balance. The ABV works very well for this Whiskey. Slightly bitter and soapy finish, but I guess we have to live with that, since I feel the Bourbon has been designed for its entry and body. A Bourbon with a bite.
For some it may be a bit to raw, harsh and outspoken, like unsanded wood. If that’s the case I can steer you towards more polished Bourbon’s like Woodford Reserve and Bulleit. I really like this Bourbon. Sure, the finish let’s it down a bit, but the rest of the experience is a very nice one. For the time being I can live with it. It is what it is.
Since this is a single barrel product, it is very much possible, other bottles are (slightly) different and have another finish. We’ll see over time when I get to taste other Willett pot Still Reserves, because I’m already looking forward to the next one.